The Los Angeles city attorney is suing JCPenney, Kohl’s, Macy’s and Sears over claims that they deliberately inflated the original price on some items that misled customers into thinking they were getting a better deal.
As reported by CNN Money, the lawsuits allege that the “misleading and deceptive false price advertising scheme” played a major role in the stores’ marketing strategies, and that the companies used false reference prices on thousands of products.
“Customers have the right to be told the truth about the prices they’re paying — and to know if a bargain is really a bargain,” said Mike Feuer, city attorney for Los Angeles, in a release.
For example, the lawsuit against Sears alleges it advertised a front-load washer with a false original price of $1,179.99, but the retailer never offered the item for more than $999.99 online in the six months after it was first made available online.
The lawsuit continues with similar claims for each of the other retail giants regarding various items.
According to California law, retailers are prohibited from advertising a price of an item unless it has actually been on the market at that price within the last three months, or the date when it was being sold at that price is made clear to shoppers.
All four retailers declined to comment on the lawsuit.